GOLDSTEIN: Liberal attack on parliamentary budget officer implodes

Any new tax has positive and negative impacts on our economy and on those who pay it

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Now that the shouting is over, you have to ask yourself what was the Trudeau government thinking when it decided to attack the credibility of Parliamentary Budget Officer Yves Giroux on the economic cost of carbon pricing?

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As it turns out, the ginned-up controversy started by the Liberals was much ado about nothing, given that they finally acknowledged last week that their own economic data agrees with Giroux’s conclusion that carbon pricing has a negative impact on the Canadian economy.

The federal data estimates the annual hit to our economy will reach almost 1% of GDP by 2030, or $25 billion, while Giroux predicted in a 2022 report that the negative impact would be 1.3% of GDP by 2030.

The difference between the federal and PBO numbers is insignificant given that the input data is constantly changing and these are estimates of what will happen six years from now.

What’s significant is that the feds have now conceded the PBO’s point that carbon pricing has a negative impact on the economy.

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All the Trudeau government has done, by hysterically criticizing Giroux after he acknowledged an error in his calculations in April on the PBO website with a promise to correct it, is to remind Canadians they are paying more for almost everything because of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s carbon tax.

Giroux’s error was that in reporting on the negative economic impact of carbon pricing in 2022 and again in 2023, he said he was only looking at the federal fuel charge, when in fact he had added in the impact of a separate carbon pricing regime for large industrial emitters known as the output-based pricing system.

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The Liberals – who complained that Giroux hadn’t acknowledged his error enough, even though the only reason they knew about it was that he had acknowledged it – tried to create the impression this mistake meant that he had dramatically overstated the costs of carbon pricing to Canadians.

In fact, when the Liberals finally released their own numbers on the combined negative economic impact of the two carbon pricing regimes last week – after prohibiting Giroux from doing so, raising allegations of a coverup by Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre – their numbers were similar to Giroux’s, as the PBO said they would be.



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What’s really going on here is a continuing campaign by the Trudeau Liberals and their supporters to discredit Giroux’s reporting on carbon pricing.

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This even though they approvingly cite up to this day Giroux’s finding in 2019 that when one considers only its fiscal impact, 80% of households within the federal carbon pricing system receive more in rebates annually than they pay in carbon taxes.

What has enraged the Liberals is that ever since 2022, Giroux has added in to his calculations that when one additionally considers the negative economic impact of carbon pricing on Canada’s GDP, labour income and business investment, 60% of households already receive less money in rebates than they pay in carbon taxes.

The Trudeau Liberals, and their supporters argue these calculations are flawed for a variety of reasons.

Basically they’ve thrown everything at the wall they can think of in hopes some of it sticks.

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They say it doesn’t factor in the economic damage caused by failing to address climate change, doesn’t compare the costs of carbon pricing to more expensive alternatives such as increased government regulation, fails to acknowledge that the cost of carbon pricing will decline over time as technology improves and ignores the economic benefits of investing in green energy.



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Back in the real world, Giroux is doing his job of being an independent, non-partisan watchdog of federal spending.

Any new tax has positive and negative impacts on our economy and on those who pay it.

Giroux has simply been pointing out there is no free lunch when it comes to carbon pricing in the face of massive Liberal government propaganda that it has somehow come up with a magical new tax that leaves almost everyone paying it better off and causes no drag on our economy.

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In the real world, the Trudeau government itself says it has committed more than $200 billion of taxpayers’ money to addressing climate change through more than 100 government programs and Canadians have a right to objective information about whether we’re getting good value for money spent.

That’s Girioux’s job and in the fall he’s said he’ll do a new report examining the fiscal and economic impact of the federal fuel charge alone in light of the mistake he made in April, based on new data available since his previous reports.

No doubt the Liberals will be screaming again.

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